Honouring Phil Sutcliffe (again)

"37 YEARS as a trade unionist man and boy... it's about constantly improving pay and conditions, and how can you knock that? That's what Phil Sutcliffe said in his off-the-cuff acceptance speech when the Branch presented him with a framed photo at December's meeting. Phil was made Member of Honour at the NUJ's national conference last spring, and the Branch wanted to mark his unique contribution as well.

Phil Sutcliffe (L); © Sara Haq; photo in photo © Dave Rotchelle (R)
Photo © Sara Haq; photo in photo © Dave Rotchelle (R)

"I'm not a high-powered ideologue, I'm a nuts and bolts kind of guy," said Phil. He related how he and others were stirred to action by a 1990s EMAP contract, which took copyright from creators "for 'all time, throughout the universe, for any media yet to be invented...' They owned your notebooks, tapes, the stuff on your hard drive, and you were 'solely liable' for blasphemy and obscenity." Phil described this contract as "The worst contract I've ever seen in my life - it remains unexcelled." The EMAP freelances got together and said no. And while Phil says "defending copyright is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge", EMAP had, in that same week, agreed extra money for web and mobile phone uses (see last issue).

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